Suicide Squad: Kill The Justice League Needs To Get Harley Quinn Right
Gotham Knights was one of my biggest letdowns of 2022. I don't always think it's that useful at the end of the year to look back on the worst times, but in order to look onward to 2023, I cannot avoid it. The closer we got to Gotham Knights' launch, the more I started to pull away. Previews were limited and controlled, and Warner Bros. arrived at Gamescom armed with a life-size Batcycle for cute pictures but no video game. The lack of trailers, the poor gameplay footage, the mishmash of single-player and co-op… the warning signs were there, and I knew it was not going to be a Bat Classic. However (and here's why I needed to bring up Gotham Knights), my hopes remain strong for Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League. A delay is par for the course and the few details we've gotten seem positive, even if the lingering fears over the whole four-person-squad thing remains. So please, 2023, give me a good Harley Quinn.
That's my one big gaming wish. I don't need Suicide Squad to be the best superhero game ever (or even the best of the year with Spider-Man 2 on the way). To be honest, I don't even need it to be that good. My wish, very specifically, is that Harley Quinn is good. The game can be bland. Just not Harley. This is Homer using his third Monkey's Paw wish for a turkey sandwich, on rye bread. I don't want to turn into a turkey myself, I just need my turkey sandwich. Please make Harley good.
Harley Quinn is probably my favourite character in any medium, and she has the good fortune to have always turned up when it mattered. Whether it's Arleen Sorkin in the cartoons, Tara Strong in the games, Margot Robbie in the movies, or Kaley Cuoco in the cartoons (again), Harley has always been a hit. They've never gotten her wrong in a major way. Though she was overtly sexualised in Suicide Squad, Robbie's excellent character work clawed her back from the misogynistic script before Birds of Prey and The Suicide Squad underlined how magnetic she is.
We're on the downturn of what I like to call 'the Quinnassaince'. Though I have been with Harley since the start, and doubled down with the Arkham games, her popularity seemed to explode. Add that to one of my favourite working actresses playing her in live-action and the animation exploring the most violent and most queer aspects of her persona, and it's bliss. Here's a fun fact – in an emergency my face doubles up as Harley Quinn's doormat.
Now though she is no longer a rising star, and is instead one of DC's biggest pop culture hitters. This changes the conversation around her, but Kill the Justice League still needs to do her, well, justice. She is the ace and they must get her right. Strong is back, the design channels Robbie while standing out on its own, and they seem to be making her the star – she holds the game together, and she needs, please, to be good. You'd think the hot streak would put less pressure, but it only adds more, as it needs to be kept going, especially with Robbie keen on donning the hair bunches again soon.
I do have a handful of doubts for the game itself. The four heroes feel a little random, and after Gotham Knights it's easy to fear a four-hero slugfest. Kevin Conroy back as Batman bestows an element of quality, but as a continuation of the Arkham story it seems strange to bring him back, and still feels like the TGA reveal was cashing in on the tragedy by making the late voice actor the star of a world premiere. But the game can just be fine. It can be generic and lightweight and hackneyed. Just make Harley Quinn good. Please. Make Harley Quinn good.
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